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Jurassic Park: 10 Facts Fans didn’t Know About Isla Nublar

In Jurassic Park lore, Isla Nublar is the home of the first park that saw the negative consequences of cloning dinosaurs. It’s also where, 22 years later, the Indomidous Rex would wreak havoc in Jurassic World, which was built on the remains of its predecessor. It is at the core of the Jurassic Park universe, the cradle from which every major event in the series stems. 

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Interestingly, the island itself isn’t very well elaborated on in either the movies or the novel that inspired them. We know that Isla Nublar sits off the coast of Costa Rica, and has a rich and diverse landscape, with mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and dense forest. Yet, dig a little deeper, and there’s a whole treasure trove of information about the little island that became a stomping ground for Tyrannosauruses and Raptors. Here are some lesser known facts about Isla Nublar. 

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10 Its name literally means ‘Cloud Island’

According to Jurassic Park’s official Fandom site, Isla Nublar was first colonized by the Spanish in the mid 1500’s. It earned its name likely because of the low hanging clouds that obscure the island from the mainland.

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Its name is Spanish for ‘Cloud Island’, which was attributed to a Spanish cartographer who accompanied the first voyage to the island. In the modern era, Isla Nublar became the property of Costa Rica, who leased it out to Hammond’s company InGen for construction of the Jurassic Park attraction. 

9 It is near ‘The Five Deaths’ 

Along with Isla Nublar, Hammond purchased five other islands that neighbored it in what was called the Muertes Archipelago. While not technically part of this grouping, its proximity to the archipelago is an important factor. One of these islands, Isla Sorna, or site-B, was the setting for The Lost World and Jurassic Park III, and where the dinosaurs were first bred prior to their arrival on Nublar. Ironically, these five islands are all called ‘The Five Deaths’, over a native legend that equated them with five different execution methods. 

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Naming aside, this means that there are four other islands that have not been explored by the franchise, and which could be the setting for upcoming films. 

8 Ginger grows there natively

Descriptions of Isla Nublar in both the novel and the film adaptation vary. Both versions share many similarities, but there are some considerable differences between the two incarnations. One random example is the abundance of ginger root that grows on the eastern part of the island. In the novel, the ginger is used to make John Hammond’s preferred flavor of ice cream, which was to be sold to park guests.

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While this fact may seem inconsequential, it does lead to a pivotal scene in the novel when Hammond stuffs his face from the safety of his bungalow, while those in the park fight for their lives. This plays into the novel’s depiction of Hammond as an arrogant sociopath who lacks any sense of responsibility. 

7 Locations on the island changed

The differences between the film and novel’s representation of Isla Nublar do not stop with ginger groves. In fact, most of the major locations in the park were shuffled around for the movie. According to maps released by Universal, the park’s visitor center is located in the westernmost part of the island, wherein in the novel, it's in the north. Dinosaurs are also moved around; the T-Rex enclosure is in the northeast in the movie, while the novel has it smack dab in the middle of the island. Some features from the novel disappeared completely in the movie. The biggest omission was the visitor lodge, which contained a luxury hotel and amenities (more on that in a second). This wouldn’t enter the movie cannon until Jurassic World, after which the locations were switched around again.

6 It became a haven for the survivors of Isla Sorna

After Isla Nublar was abandoned after the first containment breach, the island developed its own ecosystem that allowed the dinosaurs to live comfortably in their own little habitat. A similar event happened on the neighboring Isla Sorna, but according to the Dinosaur Protection Group’s Website, things soon took a turn for the worse. Illegal cloning introduced new species of dinosaurs that ended up wrecking the island's ecosystem, causing many of the dinos to fall back into extinction. Fortunately, Isla Nublar provided a safe haven for the survivors of Sorna, allowing them to live sadly while under the care of the park’s medical staff. That is, until the volcano erupted.  

5 Hawaii was a stand-in for the island

Most fans know by now that Hawaii was used as a stand-in for Isla Nublar in every movie in the series. To be more specific, the bulk of filming took place on the island of Kauai, located northeast of the state’s capital of Honolulu. There, the most iconic scenes in the franchise were shot, and many of these locations have changed little in the last twenty-six years. Some of the minor set pieces from the movie are still there today, like the log Dr. Grant and the kids hide behind in the first movie, or the location of the iconic arch, or even the remains of the old helicopter pad from the film’s beginning. These, plus other filming locations scattered around the island, should make visiting Kauai a top priority for every film buff. Though, there are other real-world locations that have been used to represent the park.

4 Parts of Jurassic World were shot in an abandoned amusement park

Jurassic World broke with tradition by being the first movie in the franchise to shoot on-location scenes of Isla Nublar somewhere other than Kauai. The avenue in front of the visitors center, where tourists are greeted by a line of restaurants and gift shops, was shot on location at the abandoned Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans, Louisiana. The park has been closed since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city, and today it has become a popular destination for urban explorers. Lately, it has found use as a film set, and Jurassic World was one of a number of recent movies that were shot there. 

3 Isla Nublar was destroyed in the original novel

Fans who have only ever seen the movies may be surprised to learn that Isla Nublar met its demise at the end of the original novel. During the conclusion, following reports of the dinosaurs’ breach of containment, the Costa Rican Air Force bombed the island with napalm. While the survivors of the incident managed to get out in time, the dinos were not so lucky. This is confirmed in the sequel, The Lost World, where it’s revealed that all the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar have been exterminated. 

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This means that the island’s destruction in Fallen Kingdom was already a piece of established lore. While the way it was destroyed is an act of nature, rather than by human intervention, the island was nonetheless reduced to a pile of ash following the eruption of Mt. Sibo. 

2 Isla Nublar probably won’t be in the next movie

Jurassic World 3 is slated to come out in 2021, concluding both the new trilogy and possibly the entire series. While there’s still a lot we don’t know, one thing we can bet on is that Isla Nublar, and possibly all of its neighboring islands, won’t be in the next film. Now that the island is gone and the dinosaurs are on the loose, there’s no reason for the films to return to where it all began. This means that Jurassic World 3 could be the first movie in the series not to feature any of the original islands, and could possibly take place entirely on the mainland. While it may seem obvious, the lack of any tropical locales places the film in uncharted territory. Without the backing of the islands, there could be no place for the dinos to go, unless they’re relocated to one of the Five Deaths later on. 

1 Hilton has a hotel on Isla Nublar 

Part of the promotional campaign for Jurassic World and its sequel attempted to market the park as though it were real. This included a fully functioning in-universe website dedicated to the park, with links to other external sites that were in on it as well. One of the best sites from the first movie was a webpage for  Hilton’s dino-infested resort on Isla Nublar. The website is very convincing, and to the untrained eye, it looks like any other resort that can be booked in the real world. Browsing through the categories and reading the list of the amenities is darkly funny, considering that many of the hotel’s residents would end up getting eaten later on. The site was established as part of a contest held by Hilton and Universal to give fans a chance to win a dream vacation, and while the contest is over, the website is still up for people to explore.  

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